That heaven is real there can be no doubt. That others beside St. Paul have been allowed a view of Paradise, is evident from the testimony of the most reliable witnesses, such as Dr. Tennent, of New Jersey, Dr. Coke, and many others. One of the most interesting and touching incidents of this character is related by Rev. James B. Finley, in his “Autobiography.” It occurred in 1842, when he was presiding elder of the Lebanon District, Ohio Conference.
He tells us that he was “winding up the labors of a very toilsome year. I had scarcely finished my work till I was most violently attacked with bilious fever, and it was with great difficulty I reached my home.” He sank rapidly. The best medical skill failed to arrest the disease, and life was utterly despaired of. “ On the seventh night,” he says, “in a state of entire insensibility to all around me, when the last ray of hope had departed, and my weeping family and friends were standing around my couch, waiting to see me breathe my last, it seemed to me that a heavenly visitant entered my room.
It came to my side, and in the softest and most silvery tones, which fell like rich music on my ear, it said: ‘I have come to conduct you to another state and place of existence.’ In an instant I seemed to rise, and gently borne by my angel guide, I floated out upon the ambient air. Soon earth was lost in the distance, and around us on every side were worlds of light and glory. On, on, away, away, from world to luminous worlds afar, we sped with the velocity of thought. At length we reached the gates of Paradise; and oh, the transporting scenes that fell upon my vision, as the emerald portals, wide and high, rolled back upon their golden hinges! Then in its fullest extent, did O realize the invocation of the poet:
“Burst, ye emerald gates, and bring
To my raptured vision,
All the ecstatic joys that spring
Round the bright Elysian."
“Language, however, is inadequate to describe what then, with unveiled eyes, I saw. The vision is indelibly pictured on my heart. Before me, spread out in beauty, was a broad sheet of water, clear as crystal, not a single ripple on its surface, and its purity and clearness indescribable.
“While I stood gazing with joy and rapture at the scene, a convoy of angels was seen floating in the pure ether of that world. They all had long wings, and although they went with the greatest rapidity, yet their wings were folded close to their sides. While gazing, I asked my guide who these were, and what their mission. To this he responded: “They are angels, dispatched to the world from whence you came, on an errand of mercy.” I could hear strains of the most entrancing melodies all around me, but no one was discoverable but my guide.
At length I said: “Will it be possible for me to have a sight of some of the just made perfect in glory?” Just then there came before us three persons; one had the appearance of a male, the other of a female and the third an infant. The appearance of the first two was somewhat similar to the angels I saw, with the exception that they had crowns upon their heads of the purest yellow, and harps in their hands. Their robes, which were full and flowing, were of the purest white. Their countenances were lighted up with heavenly radiance, and they smiled upon me with ineffable sweetness.
“There was nothing with which the blessed babe could be compared. Its wings, which were the most beautiful, were tinged with all the colors of the rainbow. Its dress seemed to be of the whitest silk, covered with the softest white down. The driven snow could not exceed it for whiteness or purity. Its face was all-radiant with glory; its very smile now plays around my heart. I gazed and gazed with wonder upon this heavenly child. A
t length I said: ‘If I have to return to earth, from whence I came, I should love to take this child with me, and show it to the weeping mothers’ of earth. Methinks when they see it, they will never shed another tear over their children when they die.’ So anxious was I to carry out the desire of my heart, that I made a grasp at the bright and beautiful one, desiring to clasp it in my arms; but it eluded my grasp and plunged into the river of life. Soon it rose up from the water; and, as the drops fell from its expanding wings, they seemed like diamonds, so brightly did they sparkle. Directing its course to the other shore, it flew up to one of the topmost branches of one of life’s fair trees. With a look of most seraphic sweetness it gazed upon me, and then commenced singing in heaven’s own strain: ‘To Him that hath loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own blood, to Him be glory, both now and forever. Amen.’
“At that moment, the power of the eternal God came upon me, and I began to shout; and clapping my hands, I sprang from my bed, and was healed as instantly as the lame man in the beautiful porch of the temple, who ‘went walking, and leaping, and praising God.’ Overwhelmed with the glory I saw and felt, I could not cease praising God."
“The next Sabbath, I went to camp-meeting, filled with the love and power of God. There I told the listening thousands what I saw and felt, and what God had done for me; and loud were the shouts of glory that reverberated through the forest."
This is a most remarkable case. Father Adams, a member of the Ohio Conference, now residing at Orange, South Carolina, told us that he was present at the camp-meeting, and heard Mr. Finley relate the circumstances, when such power fell on the people that not less than five hundred sinners were crying to God for mercy, while the saints of God shouted for joy.
The healing was divine -- done by the power of God. The man was made whole in a moment, after all hope of life had fled.
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893